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Archive for 'Cultural'

The ‘rebirth’ of Lebanon’s fashion industry

One by one, Lebanese designers are conquering catwalks across Europe. While many designers in Europe have faced problems due to the economic downturn, Lebanon’s fashion designers have had no shortage of work. They are thriving as the country profits from a year of political stability.

BBC correspondent Natalie Antelava reports below from Beirut on Lebanon’s bid to become the capital of the Middle East fashion world:

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Noodle bath: another relaxation treat from Hanoke, Japan

After bringing you the Beer Bath in Czech Republic and the Chocolate Bath in Hanoke, Japan, a new type of bath will be added to the list. It’s the Noodle Bath, again in Hanoke, Japan.

The Yunessan Spa House have launched a bath containing noodles and broth for their customers. Health authorities have banned edible noodles , so a synthetic noodle is used. A noodle bath is apparently good for the skin, and can increase metabolism.

Check it out in the video below via OnlyInJapan.org:

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China unveils world’s fastest train

China has just launched the fastest express train in the world on the longest track on earth. At a speed of around 400 km/h, this locomotive is so smooth that even a standing cigarette won’t be toppled. It ran from the central city of Wuhan down to the south coast in a record of less than 3 hours, compared to the 10 and a half hours that it normally used to take.

This is not something new for the Chinese, and if you’ve been to Shanghai then you know what I mean. They have the Maglev train that takes you from Shanghai airport to downtown at a speed topping 432 km/h.

Check out the express train in the video below:

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Wash-Bar: the German disco laundromat

Now, I feel like doing laundry.

In Hamburg, Germany, the Wash-Bar is no ordinary laundromat. It’s in fact a disco laundromat! While the spin dryers get to work, DJs spin tunes for the customers. The laundromat even serves food and drinks.

Check it out in the video below:

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Latest craze in Valentine’s gifts: chocolate spa and bath

I have previously blogged about beer bath as the ultimate relaxation treat, but for non-alcoholics or chocolate lovers, these top it all. They are the latest craze in Valentine’s gifts: the chocolate spa in Israel and the chocolate bath in Hanoke, Japan.

Check them out in the video below:

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Dolce Heavenly Concert: the Japanese concert where the audience is asleep

In Tokyo, Japan, this recital is the only one of its kind in the world, since most of the audience members… are asleep. In this two-day event called “Dolce Heavenly Concert”, spectators are invited to relax in luxury beds and since it’s sponsored by Haagen-Dazs, they are provided with as much ice cream as they can eat.

Check it out in the video below via OnlyInJapan.org:

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Kayabukiya Tavern: the Japanese tavern with monkey waiters

The Kayabukiya Tavern in Utsunomiya, Japan, employs two waiters with special background: they are both macaque monkeys. If you’re wondering how they are tipped, well they earn boiled soybeans as tips. Though in line with animal regulations, they only work for two hours a day.

Watch them while they’re working in the video below via OnlyInJapan.org:

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Beer bath: the ultimate relaxation treat

The Chodovar brewery in Chadova Plana, Czech Republic, has come up with the ultimate relaxation treat that draws people from all over Europe: a beer bath.

According to its creator Dr. Roman Vokaty, the mineral water in the bath relieves the carbon dioxide which highly impact the capillaries and allows muscle relaxation. The bath also contains beer with additives which are good for the skin, because of the vitamin B and the ale yeast. These have a very positive effect against skin illnesses.

Nevertheless, drinking your bath water is generally frowned upon.

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Lebanus 2009 annual party in Montreal set at Club Opera on November 27th

Lebanus is doing it again! Their third edition of the famous annual “Lebanese Night” party is set once again at Club Opera on November 27th, 2009.

This is an event not to be missed in Montreal since it is one of the best for the Lebanese expatriates. The 15$ entrance fee will go at 100% for financing needy Lebanese students in Lebanon. Lebanus will also be celebrating their 20th anniversary in Montreal during this event in which DJ Mario will be spinning.

For those of you who don’t know, Lebanus is a cultural and humanitarian organization dedicated to financially assisting needy Lebanese students. It was founded by four students in Paris and Lebanon in 1986, and three years later expanded to include Montreal.

Address of Club Opera:
32 Ste Catherine West
Montreal, Quebec
H2X 3V4
(514) 842-2836

2009 Lebanese Night by Lebanus

2009 Lebanese Night by Lebanus

Sand painting to celebrate China’s 60 years of communism

Even though Ferenc Cakó is an avant-garde in sand animation, this is quite different. To celebrate 60 years of communism in China in the beginning of this month, two artists have created a picturesque sand painting. Yang Qi and Li Yin have spent two weeks grinding and dying the sand red to recreate key moments from the past 60 years.

Check it out in the video below:

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Blog Action Day 2009 is today on Climate Change

Save yourself by saving the earth. After all, it’s about YOU, and it starts by YOU!

Blog Action Day 2009 - Climate Change logo

Blog Action Day 2009 - Climate Change logo

Fuamen: the new Japanese restaurant with Robot chefs

Fuamen, which is located in Nagoya, Japan, is the newest addition to the list of funky Japanese restaurants. Standing for ‘Fully Automated Ramen’, this restaurant prepares Ramen - which is a Japanese noodle dish - using robots!

Launched by the robot manufacturer Aisei, the restaurant’s robot chefs even put the food into bowls and serve it. The entire process of making the noodles takes a minute and 40 seconds. In their downtime, the robots also spin plates and fight each other with kitchen implements.

Check them out in the video below:

via OnlyInJapan.org

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Lebanese to break the Guinness Record for largest plate of Hummus and Tabbouleh on October 24-25, 2009

Update (October 25th, 2009): Congratulations to the Lebanese again! We broke the third record for the largest tabbouleh ever made weighing 3557 kilograms!

Update (October 24th, 2009): Congratulations to the Lebanese people! We broke the two records for the largest plate to hold food and the largest hummus plate weighing 2056 kilograms! One more to go!




After having in hand the Largest Dabke and the Biggest Kebbe Guinness Records, Lebanese are heading towards breaking two more records: Largest plates of Hummus and Tabbouleh.

As part of a campaign to claim the ownership of the traditional dishes from Israel that currently holds those two records, the Lebanese Industrialists Association (LIA) is arranging a special public ceremony to break Israeli records in downtown Beirut on October 24 and 25. The hummus plate will be prepared on the first day, and the tabbouleh the following day. In addition to that, they are trying to break a third record, which is the largest plate itself.

Renowned Lebanese chef Ramzi Choueiri, manager of Al Kafaàt catering school, will be supervising the work of his 250 students at the cooking school in setting the new record of a 5-metre diameter bowl of hummus. The targeted bowl of tabbouleh should exceed 2 tonnes.

Stay tuned for the results!

2009 Largest Hummus Guinnes Record in Lebanon - twitpic.com/photos/arzleb

2009 Largest Hummus Guinnes Record in Lebanon - twitpic.com/photos/arzleb

tipped via Jad Aoun’s Blog

Beirut featured in Snoop Dogg’s “Thats Tha Homie” Official Music Video

“This is the party capital of the world”. That’s how Snoop Dogg described Beirut when he performed in the capital last August. He meant it when he said that, and the proof is that Beirut is featured in the official video clip of his new song That’s Tha Homie, which is from his new album Malice N Wonderland that is set to be released on December 8th, 2009.

Beirut and SkyBar got quite a bite of that video. Watch it below:

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Hong Kong’s Oxyvital Bar: Please breathe responsibly

Among Hong Kong’s many bars, this one is fairly unique. Customers do not come here for alcohol, but instead they come for something else: oxygen. Check it out below in the video from Diagonal View:

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Lebanese faking Canadian Permanent Residency exposed!

And you wonder why the term Lebanese is not very appreciated in the Western world.

It is a shame (at least for me) to bring you this. Last week, a documentary appearing on Radio Canada’s show Enquête exposed the Lebanese faking their Canadian Permanent Residency to seek the Canadian Citizenship. Here is the documentary split into four parts for those who didn’t have the chance to see it:

Part 1:
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Part 2:
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Part 3:
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Part 4:
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A new Japanese diner concept

In Tokyo, Japan, a diner has taken a new turn where the customers are served by ‘french maids’. However in this restaurant, all waitresses are… Find out below in the video from Diagonal View:

via OnlyInJapan.org

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Lebanese kibbeh enters the 2009 Guinness Book

On Saturday August 29th, the Lebanese village of Ehden entered the Guinness World Book of Records for cooking the world’s largest plate of Kibbeh, which is a traditional dish for which Ehden is famous. Kibbeh is a Levantine Arab/Assyrian dish made of burghul and chopped meat.

Twenty five women participated in cooking the Kibbe plate, which had an area of 20 square meters and weighed 233 kilograms. They used 120 kilos of mince, 80 litres of olive oil, 80 kilos of cracked wheat, five kilos of salt and a mere kilo of pepper. The event was attended by the Guinness records’ regional representative, Talal Omar, who presented the certificate to Rima Franjieh, the head of the Maydan Institute which organized the festival.

Lebanese Kibbeh in Guinness Book - Joseph Barrak

Lebanese Kibbeh in Guinness Book - Joseph Barrak

Lebanese association Tollab in Montreal to break 2009 Dabke record in Guinness Book on June 20th 2009

Update (June 21st 2009): The Lebanese broke the record!!! The new Guinness Book Record is 4475! Congrats.


Take part in making history! Come help Tollab - the Lebanese students’ federation in Montreal - in one of the biggest record breaking events of 2009!

It is within the framework of the annual Lebanese festival in Montreal (held on June 19th, 20th and 21st 2009) that Tollab, in collaboration with MAESTRO travel, aims at setting up a new record for the longest dabke chain ever assembled; an accomplishment that will enter the famous Guinness book of records after being approved by its official representative.

The Federation’s goal is to gather 3500 people at the Marcelin-Wilson Park on the 20th of June, and invite them to dance the Dabke for at least 5 minutes. This event will provide Montreal an international exposure that will highlight its multicultural face, hence uniting all Lebanese and Montrealers of all colors, religions, names or cultures.

The event will take place at 7:30 pm on June 20th 2009 at the Marcelin-Wilson Park, which is located on 11301 boul. de l`Acadie in Montreal, Quebec.

If you would like to participate, there’s no registration beforehand, so you only need to show up for the event.
For more information, you can visit the event’s official facebook page here, or contact Tollab at communication@tollab.ca.

Tollab's 2009 Dabke record in Guinness Book flyer

Tollab's 2009 Dabke record in Guinness Book flyer

Watch online HOME, the 2009 movie by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

You can now watch the movie Home by Yann Arthus-Bertrand below. For those who don’t know about it, HOME is an ode to the planet’s beauty and its delicate harmony. Through the landscapes of 54 countries captured from above, Yann Arthus-Bertrand takes us on an unique journey all around the planet, to contemplate it and to understand it.

By bringing us unique footage from the Earth and sharing with us his wonder and his concern, Yann Arthus-Bertrand lays a foundation stone for the world that, together, we must rebuild. The film HOME intends to shift people’s perceptions, to make us aware of the tectonic movements at work and to incite us to act.

More than a movie, HOME will be a major event around the globe: for the first time ever, a film will be released on the same day in over 50 countries. June 5th 2009, World Environment Day has been chosen as the highly symbolic date for this simultaneous, and free of charge, release on every format: movie theatre, TV, DVD and Internet. The aim of director Yann Arthus-Bertrand is to reach the widest possible audience, and to convince us all of our individual and collective responsibility towards the planet.

Watch it below:

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Resumes with English names more likely to get interviews in Canada

A new study published on May 20th by Metropolis B.C. has found that Canadians with English names have a greater chance of landing a job than those with Chinese, Indian or Pakistani names. In fact, after sending out thousands of resumés, the study found those with an English name like Jill Wilson and John Martin received 40 per cent more interview callbacks than the identical resumés with names like Sana Khan or Lei Li.

Philip Oreopoulos, an economics professor at the University of B.C, and his team of five research assistants composed 6,000 resumés to represent applicants with English or non-English names and sent them to 2,000 different job postings offered by Canadian employers in the Greater Toronto Area, between May and October last year. He found that resumés with foreign names could only improve their chances of getting a job if they had Canadian or British work experience. In fact, callbacks nearly doubled with the addition of just one previous job in Canada. Another interesting finding was that, Chinese resumes that had English first names increased the chances of getting a callback.

More about this in the video below by CTV:

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The anti spitting law in China

While I was browsing through my folders, I bumped into a picture I took during my stay in Shanghai in 2006 that made me rethink of the cultural differences between East and West. The picture, shown below, shows a sign of ‘No Spitting’, which prohibits people to spit.

Eventhough spitting for the Chinese goes back five millenia, it is now regarded by the government as an obnoxious habit, and needs to be eradicated. Despite continuous advise from medical staff, the fact that spitting in public was a health hazard really hit home when the SARS virus wreaked havoc in the country in 2003. Guangdong province then introduced campaigns on making public spitting illegal. Fines are now imposed in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing. The anti-spitting drive also intensified before the Beijing Olympics in 2008 when the capital city devised a ‘No Spitting Day’ to eradicate a top etiquette no-no. But even with all that, the number of spitters remains very large.

No Spitting sign in Shanghai

No Spitting sign in Shanghai

Watch this 30 seconds rare footage of a Chinese anti-spitting campaign that dates back from the 1950s:

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The Imperial History of the Middle East

Who has controlled the Middle East over the course of history? Pretty much everyone. Egyptians, Turks, Jews, Romans, Arabs, Persians, Europeans etc… the list goes on. Who will control the Middle East today? That is a much bigger question.

Click on the ‘Play’ button in the video below from MapsOfWar.com :


Note: the events shown in the video are only till 2006.

Bian Lian: the mask changing art of China’s Sichuan Opera

Since many people used to ask me about the colored masks hung up in my apartment, I decided to give a quick explanation of their meaning. Bian Lian, in simplified Chinese 变脸, literally means Face Changing. It is an ancient Chinese art specific to the Sichuan Opera, in which performers wear bright colored costumes and masks, and quickly change their masks in a fraction of a second. It is incredibly fast to the extent that viewers cannot see how they do it. Some performers rapidly change their costumes as well. Surprisingly enough it’s not a one time act, but performers do it again and again and again.

According to Wikipedia, Bian Lian began 300 years ago, during the reign of the Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795). The masks colors reflect a character’s mood such as red representing anger and black extreme fury. Bian Lian was first used in a story about a hero who stole from the rich to help the poor. When he was caught by feudal officials, he changed his face to puzzle them and escaped as a result. Only a select number of masters know how to perform this art, and the secret is only passed down through families and from master to apprentice. Since its inception, the art was forbidden to women, but recently women had been allowed to learn the technique and perform them publicly.

The video below shows a performer frequently changing his mask:

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The significance of blood type in the Japanese culture

In Japan, the question “What is your blood type?” is a very informational question of utmost importance that people use it to know about the person’s characteristics and traits. According to Japanese beliefs, blood type is like Astrology to the West. It says a lot about the person’s personality, behavior, temperament, and compatibility with others. It is widely believed that more than 90 percent of Japanese know their blood type, and are often surprised when a non-Japanese does not know his/her.

The characteristics of blood types are as follows. Type As are sensitive perfectionists but overanxious; Type Bs are cheerful but eccentric and selfish; Os are curious, generous but stubborn; and ABs are arty but mysterious and unpredictable.

The blood type culture can be found in just everything in Japan. In 2008, four of Japan’s top 10 best-seller books were about how blood type determines personality, according to Japan’s largest book distributor, Tohan Co. The Prime Minister Taro Aso seem to consider it important enough to reveal his blood type in his official profile on the Web. Video games such as Street Fighter and Resident Evil series list character blood types in both the manual and in-game bios. Matchmaking agencies provide blood-type compatibility tests, and some companies use blood type information in interview to screen out candidates. Children at some kindergartens are divided up by blood type, and the women’s softball team that won gold at the Beijing Olympics used the theory to customize each player’s training.

It doesn’t stop here. An industry has grown around this ideology, so that you can now buy blood type chewing gum, soft drinks, calendars and even blood type condoms! The condoms are all the same, but contain different instructions for each blood group on how to approach the sexual encounter!

The idea is not backed up by Science. It all started in 1931 in Japan when Furukawa Takeji (1891–1940) proposed that there was a link between blood type and personality after working in the administration department of a high school and observing the temperamental differences between applicants. He published a paper entitled “The Study of Temperament Through Blood Type” about his observations in the scholarly journal Psychological Research. The idea was scrapped years later and the craze faded as its unscientific basis became evident. It resurfaced in the 1970s, however, as Masahiko Nomi, an advocate with no medical background, gave the theory mass appeal. His son, Toshitaka, now promotes it through a private group, the Human Science ABO Center.

You can find more information about Blood Type Humanics at the Human Science ABO Center website.

A collection of blood type-related books

A collection of blood type-related books